Customer Success

A Woman’s World: VMware Spotlight on Jalissa Hunter

“Resiliency, to me, means being willing to stick to a path even when the path isn’t straight.”

Resilience has been a common theme throughout Jalissa Hunter’s journey to becoming an Associate Technical Account Manager.

Jalissa graduated right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving her to put her triple major in political science, economics, and computer science to work in an unfamiliar, entirely online environment. The VMware Academy — a global development program that fosters the next generation of tech leaders — welcomed the Georgia native with open arms.

She’s now a mainstay on the State and Local Government (SLED) TAM team, where she primarily works with customers in the education sector.

A service orientation

“I always knew I wanted to be of service to a larger community, but I just didn’t know the way I would do it,” she recalled.

Jalissa’s fourth-grade teacher Miss Brown was the first to recognize her aptitude for science and math, inspiring her love of technical subjects. She credits her teacher with giving her the confidence and discipline to pursue an intellectually challenging field.

When Jalissa began her university studies, she found herself most drawn to her computer science coursework. “What I liked about the more technological aspects of my degree programs was that I never felt that I wasn’t challenged. There was always something new to learn, something new to explore, and a new way to help others.”

As a Technical Account Manager, or TAM, Jalissa helps public-sector customers maximize the value of their technology. While she specializes in multi-cloud, she hopes to assist customers with Kubernetes and cloud automation in the future. “As a Technical Account Manager, my life is helping people get value out of what they own. And, since I work in the state and education space, often that value means allowing a student in a far, remote location to be able to access a desktop to take an engineering class that can change their lives. So getting up in the morning means I get to be that extra help by helping a customer overcome some roadblock that keeps them from reaching that student.”

Away from work, Jalissa is furthering her own education by learning more about Kubernetes and studying for VMware’s vSphere and Cloud Management and Automation exams.

Enthusiasm is common, resilience is rare

This quote is one that Jalissa often repeats to herself, loosely inspired by Grit Scale creator Angela Duckworth.

Jalissa is no stranger to resilience — midway through college, she took time off from school and returned home to care for her mother, who had been diagnosed with a serious illness. The time away also cost her the full-ride scholarship she’d previously earned. When she returned to school, she persevered through her studies despite graduating a year and a half late. “Moments like that, they will make you. So I decided then that, hey, this is just a curve and you get through this curve and then the road will turn straight again. So that’s resiliency.”

Jalissa benefits from resilience as a woman in tech, a field notoriously dominated by men. “I think sometimes we are still the only person in the room,” she noted. “I think that’s one of the most challenging things.” She also acknowledges that work-life balance can be a problem for women in the field who feel the need to prove themselves.

However, she’s happy to be one of the many women eliminating barriers for others who want to enter tech. “I feel proud because I know I’m standing on the shoulders of very large giants,” she emphasized. “I can say that VMware has been one of the best places to work as a woman. I have no regrets about continuing my career here and I also think that this organization can serve as a blueprint for how to encourage women in STEM and support us as well.”

The future is bright

When she’s not working with customers at VMware, you’ll find Jalissa — a self-proclaimed “big foodie” — exploring the Atlanta food scene and visiting local art pop-ups and events. She also loves taking on DIY projects around her home.

If she could go back in time, she says she would mentor more women like her in the early stages of their careers. “A lot of times, we just assume that other people have the help they need, but a lot of times, women in STEM, we might be more reluctant to ask for help in the first place. So I would have been more willing to lend the hand without being asked to lend one.”

Jalissa encourages women interested in tech to stay resilient and follow their passion for the field, even if others try to discourage them. She offered the following advice: “Never listen to those who seek to push you on a different path. If someone tells you that maybe this isn’t for you or maybe think about other options, but you know in your heart and your mind that this is for you, pursue it at all costs. Never let anyone take away from what you want to do.”


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